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Issa Rae

Issa Rae

American actress and writer
Issa Rae
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actress and writer
Is Actor Screenwriter Video blogger Internet personality YouTuber
From United States of America
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio Internet
Gender female
Birth 12 January 1985, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Age 35 years
Star sign Capricorn
Education
Stanford University
New York Film Academy
Notable Works
Insecure  
Awards
OkayAfrica 100 Women 2017
Gracie Awards  
The details

Biography

Jo-Issa Rae Diop (born January 12, 1985) known as Issa Rae, is an American actress, writer, and producer. She first garnered attention for her work on the YouTube web series Awkward Black Girl. Since 2011, Rae has continued to develop her YouTube channel, which features various short films, web series, and other content created by people of color. She subsequently gained further recognition for creating, co-writing, and starring in the HBO television series Insecure. For her acting work on Insecure, she has received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Rae has released one memoir, titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Rae co-starred in the comedy Little and the drama The Hate U Give, and has starred in two 2020 movies, the drama The Photograph and the romantic comedy The Lovebirds.

Early life

Jo-Issa Rae Diop was born in Los Angeles, California. Her father, Dr. Abdoulaye Diop, is a pediatrician and neonatologist from Senegal, and her mother, Delyna Diop (née Hayward), is a teacher from Louisiana. Her parents met in France, when they were both in school. She has four siblings. Her father has a medical practice in Inglewood, California.

The family lived in Dakar, Senegal, for a short period during her childhood. She was raised mostly in Potomac, Maryland, where she grew up with "things that aren't considered 'black,' like the swim team and street hockey and Passover dinners with Jewish best friends." When Diop was in sixth grade, her family moved to the affluent View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, where she attended a predominantly black middle school. Diop graduated from King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, where she started acting. Her parents divorced when she was in high school.

In 2007, Diop graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in African and African-American Studies. As a college student, she made music videos, wrote and directed plays, and created a mock reality series called Dorm Diaries for fun. At Stanford, Diop met Tracy Oliver, who helped produce Awkward Black Girl and starred on the show as Nina.

After college, Diop received a theater fellowship at The Public Theater in New York City. Oliver and Diop started taking classes together at the New York Film Academy. Diop worked odd jobs and at one point was struggling to decide between business school and law school, but eventually abandoned both ideas when Awkward Black Girl started taking off in 2011.

Career

Awkward Black Girl

Rae's web series Awkward Black Girl premiered on YouTube in 2011. The show follows the life of J (played by Rae) as she interacts with co-workers and love interests who place her in uncomfortable situations. The story is told through a first-person narrative as J usually reveals how she feels about her circumstances through voice-over or dream sequence.

The series eventually went viral through word of mouth, blog posts, and social media, resulting in mainstream media coverage and attention. In an effort to fund the rest of the first season, Rae and producer Tracy Oliver decided to raise money for the series through Kickstarter. On August 11, 2011 they were awarded $56,269 from 1,960 donations and released the rest of season one on Rae's YouTube channel.

Rae eventually partnered with Pharrell and premiered season two of the series on his YouTube channel, iamOTHER. Rae also began releasing other content on her original channel, predominantly created by and starring people of color.

In 2013, Awkward Black Girl won a Shorty award for Best Web Show. Rae created Awkward Black Girl because she felt the Hollywood stereotypes of African-American women were limiting and she could not relate to them:

I've always had an issue with the [assumption] that people of color, and black people especially, aren't relatable. I know we are.

By using YouTube as her forum, Rae was able to have autonomy of her work because she writes, films, produces, and edits most of her work. Rae's other shows—Ratchet Piece Theater, The "F" Word, Roomieloverfriends, and The Choir, among others—also focus on African-American experiences that are often not portrayed in the mainstream media.

Insecure

In 2013, Rae began working on a comedy series pilot with Larry Wilmore, in which she would star. The series, about the awkward experiences of a contemporary African-American woman, was eventually titled Insecure. HBO picked up the pilot in early 2015 and it was subsequently greenlit. Since its release in 2016, the series has received critical acclaim; Eric Deggans of NPR wrote that "Rae has produced a series that feels revolutionary just by poking fun at the life of an average, twenty-something black woman."

In 2017, the American Film Institute selected Insecure as one of the top 10 Television Programs of the Year. For her acting work on the show, Rae has received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy in 2017 and 2018, as well as a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2018.

In 2018, at the 77th annual Peabody Awards, Insecure was honored for "creating a series that authentically captures the lives of everyday young, black people in modern society."

On November 14, 2016, HBO renewed the show for a second season. The second season premiered on July 23, 2017. On August 8, 2017, it was announced that the show was renewed for a third season, which premiered on August 12, 2018. The fourth season premiered on HBO in 2020.

Other work

Rae's first book, a memoir titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, was released in 2015 and became a New York Times best-seller. In the book, she chronicles her life through a series of humorous anecdotes and opens up about her personal struggle with not fitting in, and not being considered "black enough" at times.

On October 11, 2019, Google announced that Rae would be an additional voice to the Google Assistant. Users can make Google Assistant speak in Rae's voice by saying "Ok Google, talk like Issa."

Also in 2019, Issa Rae, through her newly launched record label "Raedio," partnered with Atlantic Records to produce "Kinda Love" by singer-rapper TeaMarrr.

Personal life

Rae's birth name, Jo-Issa, comes from a combination of the names of her grandmothers: Joyce and Isseu. Her middle name, Rae, is after an aunt, who was an artist.

She is engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Louis Diame, a Senegalese businessman. Issa Rae first wore her engagement ring publicly on the cover of Essence magazine's April 2019 issue.

Activism

Issa Rae has used her platform to bring attention to police violence and brutality against Black Americans. Following the police shooting of Alton Sterling in 2016, Rae raised $700,000 for the Sterling Family Trust to help pay for the Sterling children to attend college.

In media

In 2012, Rae was included on the annual Forbes '30 Under 30' list in the entertainment section.

In May 2015, Rae appeared on the cover of Essence magazine's Game Changers issue, alongside Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Debbie Allen, and Mara Brock Akil. Rae expressed her desire for more people of color working in production behind the scenes to make a lasting impact in the television industry.

On the red carpet at the 2017 Emmy Awards, Rae told reporters, "I'm rooting for everybody black." The quote went viral and appeared on t-shirts and in the song "Sue Me" by the rapper Wale.

Awards and Nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2017 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Insecure Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
NAMIC Vision Awards Best Performance - Comedy Won
MTV Movie & TV Awards Next Generation Nominated
TCA Awards Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated
BET Awards Best Actress Nominated
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Won
2018 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Entertainer of the Year Herself Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Performance in a Show Insecure Nominated
BET Awards Best Actress Nominated
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Won
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
2019 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Series Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (Television or Film) BoJack Horseman Nominated
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Insecure Won
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
2020 BET Awards Best Actress Won
TCA Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement in Comedy Pending
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Pending
Outstanding Comedy Series Pending
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series A Black Lady Sketch Show Pending

Works and publications

  • Rae, Issa (2015). The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. New York, NY: 37 Ink/Atria – Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781476749051. OCLC 901338241.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 26 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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Reference sources
References
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/magazine/the-misadventures-of-issa-rae.html
https://www.upi.com/Top_News/2020/01/12/UPI-Almanac-for-Sunday-Jan-12-2020/8721578623716/
https://web.archive.org/web/20200113032052/https://www.upi.com/Top_News/2020/01/12/UPI-Almanac-for-Sunday-Jan-12-2020/8721578623716/
https://www.vulture.com/2013/02/issa-rae-awkward-black-girl-interview.html
http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/issa-rae-vs-hbo-when-are-we-finally-going-to-stop-wondering-if-women-of-color-are-relatable-20150807
http://www.ebony.com/entertainment-culture/issa-raes-color-creative-calls-for-tv-diversity-111
https://www.avclub.com/article/issa-rae-still-awkward-black-girl-trailer-hbos-ins-238704
http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/05/entertainment/issa-rae-insecure-hbo/index.html
https://www.goldenglobes.com/person/issa-rae
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VG62-5PG
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/issa-rae-awkward-black-girl_n_4209313.html
http://www.chicagomag.com/arts-culture/February-2015/Issa-Rae-and-Samantha-Irby/
//www.worldcat.org/oclc/901338241
https://newrepublic.com/article/121020/issa-raes-misadventures-awkward-black-girl-reveals-real-rae
http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=53330
http://www.cnn.com/videos/living/2011/10/08/whitfield-issa-rae-interview.cnn
http://www.phillytrib.com/entertainment/diverse-web-series-grows-through-social-media/article_7da9523e-033d-5218-aef4-4b87d7655150.html
http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2011/07/awkward_black_girl_interview_issa_rae_talks_to_the_root/
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1996857943/the-misadventures-of-awkward-black-girl/posts/106068
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